Despite being loaded with talent and having a fantastic new coach in Tom Thibodeau, the Minnesota Timberwolves are not off to a hot start. Minus a game against Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Timberwolves have an upcoming schedule with winnable games, as confirmed by ESPN.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Kris Dunn is being brought along slowly because the Timberwolves have the luxury of having Ricky Rubio still on the roster. However, Tom Thibodeau might use the game against the Grizzlies as a testing ground and confidence booster for Dunn. Having him match up against Mike Conley, the highest-paid NBA player ever, could do well for his psyche. It would be even better if Dunn were to do well enough against Conley to feel that he can earn that big NBA pay day in the future.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Denver Nuggets
Two young teams from the Northwest Division, both filled with talent. However, it seems the Timberwolves have the brighter future and much of that is because of the presence of Karl Anthony Towns. He looks like a legitimate franchise player in the NBA. The Nuggets still do not appear to have someone in that role. Denver, though, does have a slew of talented big men to throw at Towns. Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic could force Towns to put in some extra work on defense.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
There are going to be plenty of games during the NBA regular season where Russell Westbrook puts up ridiculous numbers. That might happen against the Timberwolves. Ricky Rubio is a good defender, but he is not the level where he can stop Westbrook. Kris Dunn is a rookie, so Tom Thibodeau might have to provide a lot of help at defense when the youngster is guarding a legitimate contender for the NBA MVP award. Karl Anthony Towns needs a big game to counter the expected production from Westbrook.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Brooklyn Nets
When it comes to talent, the Nets have to be quite jealous of the roster that the Timberwolves have constructed over the past couple of years. The closest thing that Brooklyn has to a franchise player is Brook Lopez, a good but not transcendent player. Minnesota needs to show that they can win the games that they are supposed to win at this point in their rebuilding phase. The Nets are a team that they’ll definitely be able to beat because of the difference in talent.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Orlando Magic
Though the Magic are not a contender in the Eastern Conference at this point in time, they should still pose quite the challenge to Karl Anthony Towns. Orlando has the luxury of being able to throw Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo at the Timberwolves starting power forward. Both are excellent shot blockers, so Towns will have to work a bit harder if he wants to score inside. Ibaka is also an excellent defender on the perimeter, so Towns might not find it any easier outside.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Aside from the Clippers being a legitimate contender, the team also poses a difficult match-up for Karl Anthony Towns. In Blake Griffin, the 6-foot-11 forward will be going up against one of the best big men in the NBA. Not only that, but Griffin also has DeAndre Jordan at the center position to help guard Towns. The former Kentucky Wildcats star will have his hands full defending Griffin, and he will also need to keep looking out for Chris Paul driving into the lane against the Timberwolves perimeter defenders.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Los Angeles Lakers
If things go as the NBA hopes, then the Timberwolves and Lakers should be a great rivalry in the Western Conference for years to come. So much young talent combined on the two rosters. It might some day come down to Kris Dunn, Andrew Wiggins, and Karl Anthony Towns battling D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, and Julius Randle for the right to play in the NBA Finals on a yearly basis. For now, though, expect lots of mistakes as both teams go through their growing pains.
[Featured Image by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images]